By Steven Sanchez | email@example.com
Imagine if British metal heavyweight, Iron Maiden, had a baby with thrash metal king, Metallica; local heavy metal band, Haunt, would be the by-product of that dream pairing. This band represents everything that made the 80s metal glory days such a profound time in the genre’s history. Comprised of Trevor William Church (vocals, guitar), John Tucker (backing vocals, guitar), Taylor Hollman (bass), Daniel (Wolfie) Wilson (drums), their musical influences are evident in their sound and image. The dueling rhythm and lead guitar power chords dynamic reminiscent of Judas Priest with the K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton duo; the wailing solos from Thin Lizzy’s Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson. Finally, add a splash of the British invasion from metal royalty Angel Witch and Saxon, the result is a perfect mixture that’ll draw anybody in any age group wearing denim and leather as a fashion statement.
Nostalgia can be a factor in their method of attracting interest, but it should by no means take away from their contemporary approach to making original music, but it does look good in specific capacities. Even their recent album covers are throwbacks to old John Romita Jr.’s Marvel Comics illustrations of the Bronze Age era with their space opera and mystical presentations. Haunt even sells their music on vinyl and cassettes at their booth. Audiences get to hear this music the way it’s meant to be heard, the old-school way. It’s more of an ode to a time past but not forgotten and a continuation of a tradition that defined metal as a unique genre.
They already have a good body of work on their resume. An EP “Luminous Eyes” (2017), the album “Burst Into Flame” (2018), and their next one “If Icarus Could Fly” is expected to be due out later this year. “Burst Into Flame” has garnered critical acclaim with a review and a spot on the Top 20 best metal albums of 2018 list in Rolling Stone magazine.
Frontman, Trevor William Church, is similar to Wolverine in that he’s got metal running through his veins. His dad, Bill “The Electric” Church, played bass for Montrose with a then young Sammy Hagar. This band is Church’s passion project, and I got to talking with him about trying to break big from Fresno, how being featured in Rolling Stone magazine has impacted their career, and what their future plans are to put a haunting on the metal world.
The band was featured twice in Rolling Stone Magazine in this past year. What has that done for your career?
It definitely elevated our status. For a mainstream magazine to notice an underground metal band is always beneficial to the band.
You guys are coming in at a time where people are saying that rock is dead. What do you say to that?
Rock has never died. It might be not in the lime light as much as it was in days’ past but it’s been paving its way back into people’s ears.
What made you guys want to play metal? How did the band start?
I’ve always loved heavy metal and hard rock. The energy and feel is always something I’ve deeply loved. The band started as a solo project for me while Beastmaker was taking a break from touring. “Luminous Eyes” is just actually myself and drummer Daniel Wilson. It gained some momentum on the internet which led to the release of our full-length debut “Burst into Flame” and the formation of creating a live band.
One can say that your sound and image on your vinyl records and cassette tapes has a sense of nostalgia. Did you decide to go down that route because the old sound is different from what’s out there right now or because the old school is what you guys enjoy playing?
I really don’t know any different and these things are just very natural. Vinyl records in the heavy metal community has always been the go to choice. Cassettes have really made a comeback in the past few years and I want to make sure our fans have what they want in the physical format. I just write music that’s from the heart and however it is perceived is exactly what I want people to feel. The interpretation differs from person to person and to really lock into the actual meaning is something entirely different.
Fresno has a lot of musicians, but to people here in the state or around the country they don’t know that we have a scene. How would you describe the Fresno music scene?
The Fresno music scene is growing a bit. I’m really outside of the loop because I’m busy writing and recording in the studio. With Full Circle Olympic and Strummers though it seems like things are taking a positive turn. I hope that more bands see success and Fresno isn’t just a city on the way to LA.
Do you feel that being from Fresno, since you don’t come from a city with a big scene like Los Angeles or San Francisco, that you have to do more to prove yourself?
It wasn’t easy getting my foot in the door with Beastmaker but once we got signed and put out our first record things got moving. I prefer to be from a small city. I’m not caught up in any scene and my primary focus is producing music.
You sell vinyl and cassettes at your shows. Obviously, with Haunt being a young band you utilize contemporary viral resources, but you’re also using old school devices to sell your music. Whose ideas was it to go down the vinyl and cassette route and what was the purpose behind it?
There really isn’t a purpose. It is what is expected in the underground heavy metal music community. If we didn’t do these things we would be moving in the wrong direction.
Rolling Stone Magazine featured the band in a list of 20 Best Metal Albums of 2018. What’s your strategy during the recording process to make sure that your music stands out from the competition in the genre?
Haunt is a DIY band. We record, mix, and master our own music. A lot of heart is put into the process. Maybe it’s the fire that drives me that makes us different. I really couldn’t say what makes us different or what makes us stand out. it’s 24/7 for me though and I’m always trying to push myself to work hard.
There’s a lot of heavy metal bands that started fast, loud, and heavy, and then once they achieved mainstream success they slowed down their sound and even did ballads. Do you see yourselves changing your sound to please a mass audience?
The riffs come to you and not the other way around. I have one rule with my song writing and that is to just let it come naturally. I definitely want to explore other things but what Haunt is will always be in our sound.
Metal is already known for talking about dark things even along the lines of taboo. It’s convention at this point. Is that a factor for this band to not be so dark and controversial with the lyrical content of music where it may scare fans away?
When I started Haunt I wanted the lyrics to be very personable. So, I guess in a way I stray very far from talking about things that don’t somehow have any deep meaning to me personally.
If there’s a song that you believe represents the band in the best possible way which would it be and why?
Currently, I really like playing ” Looking Glass” it’s about looking at your inner self and what others might think of you. But, you have to continue on being true to you and those who you love. Strength is another factor in this song and it tackles that topic as well.
What does the future hold in store for Haunt?
We just put out a new EP “Mosaic Vision”. Our sophomore record “If Icarus Could Fly” will be out in May. We are doing a couple festivals in April and we are embarking to Europe in September. You can expect a lot of music in the coming year because we are changing the format and won’t be putting out full-lengths in the traditional manner anymore. Songs will be released bi-monthly and at the end of the year we will compile it all into a full length. We will have a lot of exclusive items available for this type of release…it’s all very exciting and we are using the internet and social media in a way that’ll be enjoyable for us and our fans.
Keep up with Haunt by following them on Facebook @HauntTheNation